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This issue:





Communities and Partnerships


Planning and Conservation


Tropical Topics

Safe & Happy Christmas!

Hi ,

Be informed about the latest projects and research in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area! We hope you enjoy this issue of our quarterly eNewsletter.

Highlights in this issue include:

> WTMA Executive Director appointed President of the Australian IUCN
> Cassowary Award celebrations
> WTMA Annual Report and State of the Wet Tropics Report now available

Our Tropical Topics theme this week is all about ‘Bats.’

This is our last edition of the WTMA eNews for 2011. On behalf of WTMA, I would like to wish you all a safe and Happy Christmas and look forward to your continued support in the new year.

If you have any comments, contact us on
07 4052 0533 or give us your feedback

Feel free to pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Andrew Maclean,
Executive Director

Visit our web site here.
You are invited to subscribe here.


Board Update

The Board of Wet Tropics Management Authority held its 87th Board meeting in Cairns on 31 October 2011.

Joining Board Directors, Peter Valentine, Alastair Birtles and Julia Leu for the meeting were observers from the Rainforest Aboriginal community, Leah Talbot and Ernie Grant; Departmental Representatives from Queensland Parks and Wildlife (QPWS), Wolf Sievers and Peter Ogilvie, and the Chair of the Community Consultative Committee Chair, Moni Carlisle.

Key points of Board discussion included:

  • Development of a framework for the 2012-13 WTMA workplan. The Board reaffirmed WTMA’s Mission Statement from the 2008-13 Strategic Plan; i.e. to ‘Lead, inspire, advise and support the Australian and global community to protect and share the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in perpetuity’. The Board acknowledged that new climate change legislation and recent announcements for national environmental law reform, continue to change the national and state policy and planning context in which WTMA operates.

  • Prospective National Heritage Listing of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area for its cultural values provides opportunities to partner with Rainforest Aboriginal People, QPWS and others in the region.

  • Presentation of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) discussion paper; WTMA’s Strategic Direction for Responding to Climate Change. The paper responds to the management challenge posed by Climate Change on the integrity of the World Heritage Area.

Farewell to outgoing QPWS Officer, Peter Ogilvie. Peter is retiring after serving 46 years in the public service.

>> For a summary of the Board meeting click here.

IUCN appointment

WTMA Executive Director, Andrew Maclean, has recently been elected Chair of the Australian Committee for IUCN.

WTMA has for many years been a member of the IUCN – the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. IUCN is one of the oldest and most respected international conservation organisations. It has a presence on every continent with members ranging from national governments to small voluntary conservation organisations. Of particular interest to WTMA is the role IUCN has in relation to natural World Heritage places. It evaluates natural World Heritage Sites nominated for World Heritage Status, monitors the state of conservation of existing Sites, implements capacity building initiatives, and provides technical advice to the World Heritage Committee. Visit www.iucn.org.

The Australian Committee for IUCN assists in coordinating the activities of IUCN members in Australia and helps members gain maximum value from their membership of this international organisation. WTMA has been pleased to support a reinvigoration of the ACIUCN in the last 18 months. Contributions from members, in particular Parks Australia and Parks Victoria, have enabled the appointment of Ms Penny Figgis AO as the national committee’s first full time director.

One of the main activities of ACIUCN is to organise symposia and similar events to support information exchange in support of nature conservation. WTMA is in discussion with ACIUCN about a proposal for a symposium on a World Heritage theme, likely to be held in Cairns in July 2012.

Another significant IUCN event on the 2012 calendar is the World Conservation Congress to be held in Jeju, South Korea in September. WTMA, with support from Scientific Advisory Committee members has contributed a proposal for a conference event aimed at advancing WTMA’s goals of establishing the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area as a learning landscape.

The other ACICUN committee members elected this month were Peter Cochrane, (Commonwealth) Director of National Parks, Denise Boyd of the Australian Conservation Foundation and Peter Owen of the Wilderness Society. Professor Brendan Mackey is an ex officio member through his role as an Oceania Regional Councillor for IUCN.

Become a Facebook fan!

WTMA has initiated a Wet Tropics World Heritage Fan Page on Facebook...follow us and keep up to date on activities in the Wet Tropics and the wider World Heritage Community.

Communities and Partnerships

World Heritage Gateway Study

A pre-feasibility study of a World Heritage Gateway in Cairns is underway. The study, jointly funded by WTMA and the Queensland Government, will further develop a concept for a centre that will orient visitors to the Wet Tropics, the Great Barrier Reef and other World Heritage places in Australia. Tourism consultancy firm EC3 will undertake the study and will consult widely among regional stakeholders in preparing the report.

>> Further information here.
Cassowary Awards 2011

The new interpretive centre at the Cairns Botanic Gardens provided a contemporary and elegant venue for the 2011 Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Awards on Saturday November 5.

More than 100 people gathered in the modern surrounds of the centre and amphitheatre admiring artwork and visual displays before the Cassowary Award presentations were underway.

Some of the World Heritage Area’s most inspirational people from backgrounds such as science, art, Rainforest Aboriginal culture were applauded for their tireless work in the Wet Tropics.

WTMA Board Chair Assoc Prof Peter Valentine said the Cassowary Awards continue to flourish every year.

“We are delighted to see the very high numbers of award nominations from the various sectors of World Heritage management, conservation, research and presentation. With the urgent need for higher investment for the future health of our environment, it is vital that we have a community that values, respects and cares for our World Heritage Area”.

Nature photographer Steven Nowakowski received an award in the category of Arts for his portrayal of Wet Tropics destinations that evoke passion and appreciation for the World Heritage Area.
Mr Nowakowski said he was thrilled to be acknowledged by WTMA and the Wet Tropics community for his photographic skills and volunteer work supporting environmental causes.

“You could say I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to take photos of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, and they are right here in our backyard. We are extremely lucky as a community to live nestled in a tropical green paradise and we should never take it for granted,” Mr Nowakowski said.

For a full list of Cassowary Award recipients click here.

Cassowary Award winners for the Science Category
 L-R Dr Trevor Whiffin, Rebel Elick, Siobhan Duffy, Frank Zich.

Winners of the Reef and Rainforest: Keep it Wild poster competition 2011

An awesome 320 entries were received for this year’s Reef and Rainforest Keep It Wild Poster Competition. Judges had a difficult time choosing a short list from the entries that were thought provoking and highly entertaining.

WTMA project officer and coordinator of the competition Lana Lopatich said the poster competition grows in popularity every year.

“It’s so exciting to see the high calibre of entries and the ideas that the students come up with for their poster themes. It’s a really fun process for staff and judges to view and vote on the artwork,” she said.

The Cairns Regional Gallery hosted the award ceremony on 16 September. Students, teachers and parents gathered to admire the finalists’ artwork that was featured in the gallery and to cheer on the winners.

Poster competition winners Jessica Mitchell, Riley Thatcher and Isabell Azcuene from St Andrews Catholic College

This year’s challenge was to submit an eye-catching poster designed to change the way people feel, think and act about their impact on the earth. Students submitted colourful and vibrant artwork featuring cassowaries, tree frogs and some impressive sea anemones with an important conservation message!

Winners received passes to visit the Great Barrier Reef and Skyrail.

The awards were presented by Andrew Maclean (Wet Tropics Management Authority), Doon McColl (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), Max Sheppard (Skyrail Rainforest Cableway) and Tanya Andacic (Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises).

The impressive winning entries have been compiled into a delightful calendar with an environmental message for 2012.

For a full list of winners and to download the calendar click here.

WTMA participates in Tablelands community planning

WTMA Principal Project Officer, Patricia O’Loghlen, participated in a series of ‘Think Tanks’ coordinated by the Tablelands Regional Council during August. The Think Tanks aimed to stimulate creative thinking around future trends and impacts on the Tablelands community and its environment. They were attended by about 100 locals from the Cairns and Tableland region and themes included Population, Lifestyle and Wellbeing; Adapting to out Changing Environment, Resource Base – A More Sustainable Future and Globalisation versus Localisation.

“The Think Tanks invoked thoughtful discussion about how the Tablelands could be affected by both local and global trends. It also reinforced how important it is to maintain a healthy environment which includes natural areas that people enjoy and benefit from socially, physically and psychologically,” Ms O’Loghlen said.

Following on from the Think Tanks, Ms O’Loghlen, along with around 220 people from the Tablelands and local area, attended the Council’s Tablelands Community Plan Regional Summit in September. The regional summit presented the framework for 20 Community Plans and seven Indigenous Plans. The plans aim to provide a greater awareness of community aspirations; to advance projects and initiatives and give more clout when negotiating priorities; and to guide and inform Council planning.

Participants at the Summit were given the opportunity to review the input provided by communities and to add further issues or aspirations.

The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area was considered in the plans and additional input into the plans was provided on the day. These included ideas about the World Heritage Area being important for the wellbeing of the community and playing a significant role in the life of the community. The impact of climate change on the Wet Tropics was also noted in the community plans. The plans are expected to be available for comment from 12 December 2011 to 16 January 2012.

Planning and Conservation


Chinese delegation gets friendly with cassowary

WTMA’s fibreglass cassowary situated in the foyer of the office posed for photo opportunities for a delegation of 20 Chinese officials who visited WTMA on 9 November. The fibreglass replica was the first cassowary the delegation had seen since arriving in Cairns and proved to be quite a hit.

The delegation was visiting WTMA to gain an overview of the Authority’s roles and responsibilities in management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

The visitors were from Guangdong Nature Reserve Management Office and included the Directors and Deputy Directors of Nature Reserves from around the Province. Guangdong Province is the richest province in China in terms of GDP and is located next to Hong Kong.

Through an interpreter, WTMA staff provided a brief history of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and gave delegates an insight into the instruments and management tools used in planning and supporting management of the Area.

Delegates were also briefed on the role of tourism and community partnerships. Participants raised a number of questions relating to management arrangements and were particularly interested in the legislation and organisational structures governing the Wet Tropics. The visitors showed their appreciation by providing staff with baseball caps and documents about nature reserves in Guangdong Province.


WTMA Communities and Partnerships Manager Dr Paul Chantrill addresses the Chinese delegation

WTMA’s Annual Report and State of the Wet Tropics Report 2010-2011

Copies of the WTMA Annual Report and State of the Wet Tropics Report are now available on our website. For your copy click here (note: large file).

The WTMA 2011 State of the Wet Tropics Report focussed on the risks created to the outstanding universal values of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area by exotic pests, weeds and disease in and around the World Heritage Area.

Over 508 exotic plants have become established in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area – that’s nearly 40 percent of Queensland’s total weeds.

The Report states that biosecurity threats to the World Heritage Area have increased with the mobility of people, plants, and animals - and that they will be magnified by climate change, interacting with wetter wet seasons and longer and dryer dry seasons. Many of these threats are almost impossible to control once they become established.

WTMA Executive Director, Andrew Maclean said that recent detection of the devastating fungal infection, Myrtle Rust, highlighted the gaps in the biosecurity of environmental threats.

“Myrtle Rust is fungus that threatens the Myrtaceae plant family, one of the largest native plant families in Australia. The Wet Tropics has 211 species of Myrtaceae including paperbarks, melaleuca, lilly pilly, golden penda, eucalypts and tea trees to name a few. We are very concerned about the threat this fungus poses to the diversity and health of our World Heritage Area,” he said.

Other biosecurity threats to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area include:

  • Asian Honeybee – an exotic bee that may interfere with pollination of native plants and compete with native insects and wildlife as well as posing a threat to the apiary industry

  • Phytopthora – a root fungus that threatens hundreds of the region’s unique rainforest plants

  • Chytrid fungus – has contributed to the extinction of several species of Wet Tropics endemic rainforest stream-dwelling frogs from altitudes above 300 metres

  • Tramp ants – are increasing in range and threaten ground dwelling reptiles, mammals and birds

  • Tilapia – this exotic fish is rapidly invading many of the major rivers and streams

A key message of the report is that pests, weeds and disease that threaten native ecosystems are currently receiving lower priority and investment compared to that given to similar threats to of agricultural systems.

WTMA gets a mention in the Senate

Queensland Senator Jan McLucas rose in the Senate recently to commend the work of the Wet Tropics Management Authority. A link to the Hansard extract of her speech is here. Thanks to Senator McLucas for her kind words and support.

Full steam ahead to make the connections

It’s all stations go for the Making Connections connectivity project on the Southern Atherton Tablelands, with the coming Wet Season promising to be a busy time!

This collaborative project, funded by the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative, will help to restore connectivity between the World Heritage Area and patches of remnant rainforest on private lands at Rock Road (Upper Barron) and the East Evelyn Gap. Increasing habitat and restoring wildlife corridors in these critical high altitude locations, will help to buffer many iconic Wet Tropics species, like tree kangaroos and ringtail possums, from the effects of climate change.

Students from the Centre for Rainforest Studies monitoring the 2011 planting

Fencing is being erected on several private properties over the next few months to protect new plantings from cattle. The Tablelands Regional Council’s Community Revegetation Unit is preparing the remaining sites for planting. The 6,000 trees over 2 hectares planted in early 2011 have survived well, despite the very dry winter. A further 4 hectares will be planted in 2012.

Why not come and join us at one of the community plantings mornings and sausage sizzles at the East Evelyn Gap on Saturday 28 January and Saturday 18 February (weather permitting). Contact Deb Pople at WTMA nearer the time for details, or look for more information in the TREAT and TKMG newsletters.

We’re also moving forward on the science front. Dr Luke Shoo (UQ/JCU) and Professor Carla Catterall (Griffith University) are working with Kylie Freebody and Conservation Volunteers Australia to set up microhabitat trials and pasture conversion plots to try out more cost-effective ways of encouraging natural regeneration. During November, volunteers will be helping to mark out the plots and install piles of logs and old fence posts (sourced from nearby properties and cyclone tree-fall) to encourage faster colonisation of invertebrates and reptiles in recently replanted areas. Dr Rohan Wilson and students from the Centre for Rainforest Studies (School for Field Studies) in Yungaburra will be helping to monitor the plots and record changes in condition and diversity.

Tropical Topics



>> Read more on Tropical Topics here.

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